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Title: Investigations into the mechanics of connective tissue
Author: Pritchard, Robyn
Awarding Body: University of Cambridge
Current Institution: University of Cambridge
Date of Award: 2015
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This thesis presents work on investigations into the mechanical properties of connective tissue. A model system of hydrogels was used to investigate how volume change through water flow is coupled to relaxation. This was done using digital image correlation (DIC) and a custom built setup. It was found, in hydrogels, that water loss is directly coupled to an increase in tension and water intake is directly coupled to tension relaxation. The experimental setup was tested by investigating the mechanical properties of the well known material polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS) and the novel materials of carbon nanotube (CNT) elastomers, cholesteric liquid crystal elastomers (CLCEs), and 3D polydomain liquid crystal elastomers (3DLCEs). The setup accurately demonstrated the incompressibility of PDMS, even at short time scales, and demonstrated how DIC can map the inhomogeneity of material by locating clusters of CNTs in CNT elastomers by how they deform. Novel results for 3DLCEs were also found, where it was discovered that there is a softening of the bulk modulus at small time scales resulting in a volume increase following deformation, the bulk modulus then recovers and there is over all no volume change. This is in stark contrast to the typical case, where it is the shear modulus that becomes comparable to the bulk modulus, resulting in increased volume. A theoretical investigation was carried out into critical damping in viscoelastic oscillators, where the aim was to apply to the findings to connective tissue. The fractional Maxwell model and zener model where both solved for, where it was found that damping decreases as the material becomes more solid and the peak of critical damping becomes broader. Finally, investigations into how strain relates to the viscoelastic properties of connective tissue were carried out on horse tendon and rat fascia. How relaxation changes was determined through the relaxation constant, where a large constant means it takes the sample longer to relax and it is more solid like. It was found, that in general, the relaxation constant increases quickly with an imposed strain and then either stabilises or increases more slowly. This growth of relaxation constant also occurs during the initial stages of tissue injury, where irreversible deformation occurs.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: Connective tissue ; Fascia ; Tendon ; Viscoelasticity ; Fractional viscoelasticity ; Critical damping ; Hydrogel ; Digital image correlation ; DIC ; Cell mechanics